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Thread: (Chicago, IL) Chicago Transit Authority: annual operating costs up $208 million

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Dharmster's avatar
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    (Chicago, IL) Chicago Transit Authority: annual operating costs up $208 million

    http://www.publicpurpose.com/tpb-chi.htm

    TRANSIT PERFORMANCE BRIEF
    Chicago Transit Authority:
    Annual Operating Costs up $208 Million
    Commentary Below


    TRANSIT AGENCY PERFORMANCE Chicago: Chicago Transit Authority
    Operating Costs: 2002 $956,200,000
    Operating Cost per Passenger $1.97
    Operating Cost per Passenger: 1983 (Inflation Adjusted) $1.54
    Increase (Decrease): 27.8%
    Increase in Operating Costs from 1983 (Inflation Adjusted) $207,700,000

    SAVINGS THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN ACHIEVED
    Scenarios: If Costs Had Been Contained Within Excess 2002 Spending

    1 - Inflation Rate (1983-2002) $207,700,000

    Market Indicators
    2 - San Diego Transit Bus System Costs (1983-2002) $550,600,000
    3 - US Domestic Airline Costs (1983-2002) $545,200,000
    4 - US Intercity Bus Industry Costs (1983-2001) $309,800,000

    Notes
    Source: Federal Transit Administration National Transit Database
    2002 operating costs are likely understated in comparison to 1983 costs, due to a federal transit accounting change that allows some maintenance costs to be counted as capital costs.
    Capital Costs not included (capital costs are included for airlines and intercity bus.
    2002 intercity bus cost information not available.
    1983 is first year of present FTA National Transit Database reporting format.

    COMMENTARY

    Transit agencies around the United States are experiencing budget difficulties. The proximate cause of the current financial crisis is that costs have been insufficiently contained.

    It is difficult to find an industry in which costs have increased more rapidly than in transit. From 1970 to 2002, transit costs per passenger mile increased more than 180 percent, after adjustment for inflation. By comparison, the medical care consumer price index increased less than one-half that of transit.

    Transit's cost performance in the United States is particularly stark in comparison with international transit developments and trends in other transportation industries.

    In a number of world urban areas, governments have required transit agencies to implement cost containing structures that have reduced costs considerably. The most typical strategy is competitive contracting (competitive tendering), in which the transit agency continues to administer the system, but purchases service for a specified period of time from private providers. This strategy has reduced London bus costs approximately 50 percent since 1985 and has reduced Stockholm bus, metro (subway) and commuter rail costs approximately 20 percent since the early 1990s (add data inflation adjusted). Copenhagen, Adelaide, Perth (Australia) and other urban areas have also converted to competitive contracting.

    Federal regulation and strong labor and rail building lobbies have generally kept more cost effective strategies from being implemented in the United States. There are, however, exceptions. For example, approximately 40 percent of bus services in San Diego have been competitively contracted. Since 1983, costs per passenger have dropped more than 40 percent (inflation adjusted).

    Competition has also been applied in other US transportation industries. Both the airline industry and intercity bus industries were deregulated more than two decades ago. Costs per passenger mile have dropped steeply, in contrast to the cost escalation that has occurred in transit.

    This series reviews cost performance of US transit agencies, with comparisons to results that have been obtained where competition has been applied, both in transit and other transportation industries.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    This is ridiculous. Why do you post stuff from Wendell Cox? The CTA is operating with $150 million LESS subsidy than it had in 1980, after inflation. This is due to cutbacks in federal subsidies and a local funding formula that favors the suburban agencies.

    So per-rider cost is up? Of course it is! The CTA has been forced to continuously raise fares and cut service in the past twenty years to plug the subsidy hole. As a result, it’s lost nearly 20% of its ridership. As ridership falls, farebox revenue falls and a greater subsidy is needed just to keep the remainder of the system in operation.

    Cox aught to write a paper on how to kill a transit agency in three easy steps. It’d go something like this:

    1. Underfund the agency. This will cause service to decline and fares to increase, driving away ridership.
    2. Point out that ridership is declining. Blame mismanagement and call for a decrease in funding.
    3. Repeat until the only riders that are left are people who have no other choice, then demand that the agency be terminated for a lack of ridership.

    Metra, the suburban train system, has managed to decrease its per-passenger subsidy and increase its ridership since 1980. Of course, Cox would say, that’s because Metra is run by honest suburban republicans, not by city democrat patronage. He would ignore the fact that Metra is currently under investigation by the state attorney general for obscene executive compensation to make that claim.

    The real reason why Metra is doing so well is why they’re repainting their locomotives every five years, or why they’re transferring operating subsidy to their capital budget to build more parking lots: THEY HAVE ENOUGH MONEY. Give transit the funding it needs and it will flourish. Starve it and it will die. Simple as that.

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    Cyburbian Dharmster's avatar
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    Jordan:

    I understand your point and I know that PAT and CTA have done a lot. However, I don't think ridership drop can explain ALL the increase in costs. Here in Washington we've experienced a increase in subsidy despite adding service and growing ridership. The problem is that producivity levels under union work rules are not high to begin with. On top of that labor compensation continues to outpace productivity improvements. I'd like to see some analysis done EXCLUDING ADA mandated paratransit costs so we can take out the costs in growth due to to this rapidly growing part of the market.

    My bottom line is that Wendell is correct that contracting out would save money. Would it solve the problem.. no any informed person would come to that conclusion. However, it would lower the required subsidy level and buy us some time when many major transit systems are facing draconian cuts.
    Last edited by Dharmster; 20 Dec 2004 at 1:51 PM.

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    maudit anglais
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    It would be extremely helpful if you provided some context to these articles you post rather than just reposting existing articles. It's very difficult to respond to these extracts.

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    Cyburbian Dharmster's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tranplanner
    It would be extremely helpful if you provided some context to these articles you post rather than just reposting existing articles. It's very difficult to respond to these extracts.
    Umm... that was the whole article. The author has a series of these:

    http://www.publicpurpose.com/tpb-ix.htm

    The purpose of them was to show that in PART, the financial crisis are a result of not keeping the growth in costs down.

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    Cyburbian FueledByRamen's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dharmster
    Umm... that was the whole article. The author has a series of these:

    http://www.publicpurpose.com/tpb-ix.htm

    The purpose of them was to show that in PART, the financial crisis are a result of not keeping the growth in costs down.

    I think Tranplanner meant that instead of just posting an article, YOU actually say something about it.

    I take everything from Wendell Cox, Public Purpose, Thorough Institute, etc. with a grain of salt as Ive seen alot of the stuff they put up negated quite easily. They use facts, but they also manipulate those facts.

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    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    You also didn't need to start six new threads, one for each city.

    I'm on a mailing list with a guy who works for CAT in Las Vegas. You might know that system as the shining example of the wonderful possibilities of privatization of transit. It's the most privatized system in the United States. And it really is a bargain. I believe it's the cheapest transit system of its type in the country, by just about any measure.

    How do they do it? Just how you propose: They have no union, the bus drivers are paid ****. The buses are in a horrible state of repair and frequently break down. They do the minimum they are required to do to keep them on the road. The Nevada government sets benchmarks that CAT's private operators have to meet, and they do the absolute minimum required to meet those objectives. Remember, CAT is in buisness to make money, not to provide transit service.

    The bus drivers are paid so poorly that people only drive buses as a McJob that they take while waiting for something better. The drivers turn over so quickly that few of them are any good, and CAT makes the schedules unrealistic to satisfy service requirements with as few buses as possible, so accidents are very common. CAT has a chronic problem keeping enough drivers so the ones who stay on have to work mandatory overtime, and now they're abandoning routes simply because they don't have enough warm bodies for all of the buses.

    Well, so the state saves a bundle of money on running transit in Las Vegas. If you believe in lowballing transit, I suppose then that privatization is a good thing. But the public suffers, the drivers suffer, and most of all the riders suffer when that transit doesn't work.

    That's fine in Vegas though because the only people riding the buses are people too poor to own cars, plus some people using them as shuttles on the strip. Far more important than actually having a functional transit system is keeping taxes low for the people of Nevada, so by that measure, CAT is a stunning success that will undoubtedly be paraded around by the Wendell Coxes of the world as proof that privatization is the perfect solution to the transit "problem."

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    maudit anglais
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    Quote Originally posted by FueledByRamen
    I think Tranplanner meant that instead of just posting an article, YOU actually say something about it.
    That's pretty much what I meant. Also, copyright rules may not permit you to post the article verbatim - it should at least be in quote tags.

    And yes, starting a separate thread for each city/each article is a bit extreme...I've already merged some of your previous threads. I'm not trying to discourage you at all - this topic is extremely important. I'd just like it presented in a manner that encourages discussion.

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    Cyburbian Dharmster's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    You also didn't need to start six new threads, one for each city.

    I'm on a mailing list with a guy who works for CAT in Las Vegas. You might know that system as the shining example of the wonderful possibilities of privatization of transit. It's the most privatized system in the United States. And it really is a bargain. I believe it's the cheapest transit system of its type in the country, by just about any measure.
    But to tell the whole story isn't this the same Las Vegas system that has expanded its service and ridership greatly. I believe for many years it had the among the highest ridership growth of any large only system in the country.

    I'm a little skeptical of claims of accidents. Accidents cost money in repairs and insurance payouts. My guess is that a private operator would do something when the accident rate gets too high as it would utlimately cost them money. The same thing with turnover.. turnover costs money. Being a bus driver is not like working at Wal-Mart. You must have a CDL which is not exactly easy to get and then the drivers have to be trained. Again, if turnover was too high it would actually cost the operator money.

    The problem with performance is that the CAT set the performance standards too low. Even you said they meet them because if they don't they get penalized.

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    Cyburbian nuovorecord's avatar
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    Having worked as a manager for a transit/pupil transportation contractor once upon a time, I'll chime in here.

    JordanB's post hit the nail on the head. Our contract with the school district was bid so low, there was no room to pay drivers a competitive, let alone decent wage. As a result, we would routinely hire 50-60 drivers within a 9 month period of time. This in a school district that had about 50 routes. Result: over 100 percent employee turnover. The contractor had to train all these new drivers, who usually had no previous experience driving a bus. This was costly and the accident experience was through the roof!

    The vehicles were crap. 14 years old or more was the rule. And, since they were the bottom of the barrel even when they were new, they were pretty well shot. But they went out there every day, anyway.

    Since the wages were so low, the typical employee was, shall we say, less than adequately equipped to be dealing with 50 school children confined in a small space. We had issues with drivers grabbing children, swearing, pulling the bus off the road and sitting for 45 minutes while trying to get the kids to calm down, getting lost, arriving late, etc. One driver was fired due to his arrest for child molestation at his church. Just the kind of people you'd want driving your children, right? But, when you're paying only $7.50 an hour (in the early '90s), you get what you're paying for.

    And so it goes with contracting. The school district thought they were getting a great deal. But, the taxpayers were getting crappy, dangerous service. The most cost-effective service is not the cheapest. The contractors have it figured out...they'll still make money, despite the higher costs of hiring and accidents. They'll cut corners everywhere they can, because they really don't care about the service.
    "There's nothing wrong with America that can't be fixed by what's right with America." - Bill Clinton.

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    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    In the era of cities built for cars transit doesn't turn a profit.
    Privatizing a system doesn't all of the sudden make the system turn a profit. It still requires a subsidy and the net effect is to turn "excess" quality/level of service and employee compensation into profit for executives and shareholders.
    All one needs to do is look at what happened to British Rail under privatization.

    Besides - Privatizing a system doesn't automatically mean there will be no union representation. France and the French cities that have contracted out service still have union operators.

    slightly off-topic: I saw a SEPTA bus driver get a speeding ticket yesterday. He was presumably speeding, as those drivers always do, because he was behing schedule. He was presumably behind schedule, as those buses always are, because of people double-parked on already narrow Philly streets.

    He was pulled over by an undercover traffic cop at one of the busiest intersections downtown. His bus was emptied out, he was given a ticket and sent home. A supervisor drove his bus back to the yard after verbally reprimanding the driver (along with two cops and another supervisor) The irony of it was that they kept the bus there for 20 minutes with a police van, a police car, and two septa vehicles parked behind it. They were completely blocking the right lane. Traffic was backed up behind them for 4 blocks - and stuck in that traffic was the next bus on the schedule. I got on that bus 7 minutes after it was scheduled to arrive at the corner i was standing on and the driver sped and ran stop signs (not that it's uncommon here) to make up the time.


    Rather than target people
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

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    Cyburbian nuovorecord's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jresta
    In the era of cities built for cars transit doesn't turn a profit.
    Quite true. IMHO, I don't think transit, or the highway system for that matter, should be a profit-making venture. They are public investments that benefit us all. The whole concept of transit "paying for itself" is a straw man set up by pro-sprawl wingnuts like Wendell Cox, John Charles, Ken Orski, et al. The highway system doesn't make a profit either, let alone generate enough revenue to pay for itself, but few people are screaming about that.

    Heck, why stop at privatizing transit? Let's privatize the military since we're so gung-ho on saving money? Here's a great idea: Click here
    Last edited by nuovorecord; 21 Dec 2004 at 3:28 PM. Reason: Added paragraph
    "There's nothing wrong with America that can't be fixed by what's right with America." - Bill Clinton.

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    Cyburbian Dharmster's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jresta

    Besides - Privatizing a system doesn't automatically mean there will be no union representation. France and the French cities that have contracted out service still have union operators.
    I think that's an important point. However, the private sector tends to be a harder negotiator than the public agencies that run transit. That's why as Wendell correctly points out (and nobody bothered to refute) that costs have dropped dramatically in Europe with concessioning of services even though many operators remain unionized.

    This should not be about implementation.. there are operators both public and private that do a lousy job of providing service. This should be about POLICY.. and if your objective is to cut operating subsidies (as they did in the UK with bus) yes you'll lose ridership and some service. On the other hand if you want to transfer the operations to the private sector (which most informed people would agree makes eminent sense) but maintain public control of fares, schedules, planning and service quality then you can have excellent public transit. There are some things the public sector does better and some things the private sector does better. Operating transit is something the private sector generally does more efficiently than the public sector.

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    Cyburbian Dharmster's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jresta
    All one needs to do is look at what happened to British Rail under privatization.
    Hmmm.. is this the same rail system that is at a all time high for ridership? Is it the same systme that has replaced more rolling stock in the ten years after privatization than was replaced in the twenty five years before privatization? Is this the same system that ADDED about 350 trains in the last schedule change alone?

    There were problems, but they are working themselves out. Also I should note that current LABOR government refuses to either renationalize train operations or reregulate the bus industry outside London (which operates COMPLETELY deregulated except for safety, environment and public subsidy on routes that wouldn't operate without a subsidy). That's because both decisions made by the Conservatives made sense. New Labor after being out of power for eighteen years had the good sense to marginalize all the left wing loonies and as a result they are by far now the dominant party in the UK.

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    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    That same mailing list has a british person on it. Here's what he said about the British rail system:


    Oh, golly, where shall I start.

    Consider this: before 1995, all long-distance rail and commuter trains were owned and run by British Rail, wholly owned by the Crown. The London underground was owned by the Crown as well, under a different structure.

    After 1995, the rail network was broken up into many different divisions, and is now called "National Rail".

    There was one company that owned and maintained the infrastructure (track, stations, etc.): Railtrack. This went bankrupt through ineptitude, mismanagement, and inexperience, and has now changed into something called Network Rail.

    There were three companies that owned and maintained the rolling stock.

    There was one freight company for all freight services.

    There were about 30 (perhaps more) companies that leased the trains to run services over the track.

    There were a few miscellaneous companies.

    There are two government rail regulators at the moment, soon to change to one.

    Success? The Southeast franchise was so inept that the government removed the franchise holder and at the moment runs the trains themselves. They have been moderately successful, but our government in its wisdom has decided to franchise it out again to someone else.

    The companies that were contracted by Railtrack to maintain the infrastructure had to cut costs to return value to their investors. Result? The Potters Bar derailment a few years ago that killed a number of people--this was caused by an inexperienced worker or workers who did not install a switch correctly. Jarvis (the contracting company) maintained that it was sabotage until confronted with evidence to the contrary. Jarvis is now close to bankruptcy. There are several reports of inexperienced subcontract workers killed on the lines because they were not sufficiently trained in safety procedures and made errors resulting in their or others' deaths.

    As for the buses, the big companies (Connex, Stagecoach, WAGN, FirstBus) conspire together to carve up the country into new monopolies where they can charge what they like. Only in London and perhaps in other large cities is there any form of brake on this tendency. Rural communities abandoned by the railway cuts under Dr. Beecher in the 1960's are now being abandoned by the bus companies as it is uneconomic to run services to them. Therefore more and more rural residents remain totally dependent on their cars.

    The government widens the privatisation program on the spurious grounds that it spreads risk from the government to the private sector. However, the private companies have cunningly made contracts that ensure that they will get a profit no matter what happens with the railway or Underground business.

    Yeah, you can make a few pounds occasionally. However, you also can seriously injure and kill people, ruin rural transport links, and get subsidies from the government to pass directly to your shareholders. It's a great scam.
    Also the conservatives (Yes, them) admited that their government made a mistake when they decided to privatize the system.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/982037.stm

    After the series of rail disasters in the past few years, there is a growing consensus - now shared by Tory transport spokesman Bernard Jenkin - that the complex plan to split to railways into 25 different companies was a mistake.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Dharmster's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    That same mailing list has a british person on it. Here's what he said about the British rail system:,
    Sorry but that information is wrong. The government has now renationalized the infrastructure and privatizing was a mistake. The Conservatives and Labor now both agree that having the infrastructure in public hands but the operations in private hands seems to make sense and Labor is making no moves to renationalize operations and the Conservatives have stated they have no plans to re-privatize the infrstructure ownership.


    As for the bus operations, every objective study I've seen showed that costs went down. Remember at the same time bus service was deregulated subsidies were cut by a third.. one should not link one policy decision (to cut subsidies) with another (to privatize and deregulate the service).

    Suffice it to say, whoever you are getting your facts from is misinformed.

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    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Nobody is arguing that privatization saves money (when it's not competly bungled). We're just cynical of the claim that it won't hurt service, as example after example as well as basic logic (companies are in the business to make a profit, not to serve the public, they'll cut costs to maximize return wherever possible) says that it will.

    The emphasis in transit has been on cutting costs, and basically damn everything else for the past half-century. In this country, there was a brief respite during the late 1970s when the federal government actually made it a policy to increase ridership, but then it returned to cutting costs after everyone forgot about the energy crisis. The result is a system that is a shadow of its former self and that the majority of people in this country are car-dependent. I think it's time that the focus return once again to increasing ridership.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Privatizing operations - along the lines of the French model - probably would be a good idea, especially in this city. Unfortunately, a private model would probably turn out to be more of a patronage mill than the one we have already.

    On the other hand i think you're forgetting why city and state governments took these operations over in the first place.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Dharmster's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    Nobody is arguing that privatization saves money (when it's not competly bungled). We're just cynical of the claim that it won't hurt service, as example after example as well as basic logic (companies are in the business to make a profit, not to serve the public, they'll cut costs to maximize return wherever possible) says that it will.
    However, if the public is unwilling to pay higher subsidies which is the case in many parts of the country the alternative is to have less service. From a public policy perspective given whom mass transit serves (a lot of too young, too poor, too old to drive) I'd rather provide more service at a lower quality than have no service which is what they are looking at in Philly and Pittsburgh.

    The emphasis in transit has been on cutting costs, and basically damn everything else for the past half-century. In this country, there was a brief respite during the late 1970s when the federal government actually made it a policy to increase ridership, but then it returned to cutting costs after everyone forgot about the energy crisis. The result is a system that is a shadow of its former self and that the majority of people in this country are car-dependent. I think it's time that the focus return once again to increasing ridership.
    Please tell me where you are getting your figures from. The facts don't bear that out.. funding at all levels for public transit has increased not decreased since 1990.

    The reason public transi is a shadow of itself is rising auto ownership and home ownership (usally the single family type). If you live in a community of single family homes with little mix of land uses (as most suburbs) you are statistically very likey to own a car. If you own a car your propensity to use transit goes down.. there's no hope in trying to effectively serve the sprawling suburbs with anything more than some peak hour service to/from the CBD (maybe more if you are closer to the CBD). And as Wendell points out correctly in Europe they are sprawling and buying cars because that's what people want... it's our societies own affluence that has helped to bastardize public transit not some sinister public policy plan to gut transit at the expense of highways.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Dharmster's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jresta
    Privatizing operations - along the lines of the French model - probably would be a good idea, especially in this city.
    Remember public transit in Europe was also taken over by the government. Subsequently they are going to the concessioning model of public funding but private operation because of all the problems that public operation brough with it.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian nuovorecord's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dharmster
    And as Wendell points out correctly in Europe they are sprawling and buying cars because that's what people want.
    Says who? They are buying what is being built (sprawling crap) because that is what the developers are building and it's the type of development the lenders are most comfortable funding. It's a formula that generates a known profit in a risk-adverse climate - build as cheaply as possible and make as much money as possible. Land further away from an urban core is always cheaper to build on. It's not because the public has a demand for it. People are getting sick of driving their cars everywhere, but they are not being given a choice. That's why New Urb, Smart Growth, TODs, etc. are so popular. They often sell out months before construction is complete.
    "There's nothing wrong with America that can't be fixed by what's right with America." - Bill Clinton.

  22. #22

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    Quote Originally posted by nuovorecord
    Says who? They are buying what is being built (sprawling crap) because that is what the developers are building and it's the type of development the lenders are most comfortable funding. It's a formula that generates a known profit in a risk-adverse climate - build as cheaply as possible and make as much money as possible. Land further away from an urban core is always cheaper to build on. It's not because the public has a demand for it. People are getting sick of driving their cars everywhere, but they are not being given a choice. That's why New Urb, Smart Growth, TODs, etc. are so popular. They often sell out months before construction is complete.
    The idealistic side of me agrees with you. The realist says that you are only partly correct. People are not really all that sick of driving their cars everywhere. cars are extensions of their psyches, their entertainment centers. Driving everywhere is the only thing most people know. New Urbanism caters to a quite small, self-selected elite.

    I want to live in YOUR world, NR. Unfortunately, and this is why I am so cynical and, dare I say it, burnt out, America is Dharmster's world, as destructive in many aspects of life as the National Automobile Slum really is. Still, fight the good fight!

  23. #23
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dharmster
    However, if the public is unwilling to pay higher subsidies which is the case in many parts of the country the alternative is to have less service. From a public policy perspective given whom mass transit serves (a lot of too young, too poor, too old to drive) I'd rather provide more service at a lower quality than have no service which is what they are looking at in Philly and Pittsburgh.
    I can't speak of other cities but in Chicago, the CTA is focused on more funding, not further degrading service. And they have ever strengthening support in Springfield. Most recently, the chairman of the house of reps has pledged that it will be his "top priority" in the next session. The Governor quickly voiced his support as well, and the leader of the Senate was already behind it.

    Wendell is against more funding towards transit. He thinks that having public servants operate the system is a "waste." Your position has seemingly drifted from his to the argument that funding is nonforthcoming and that privatization should be pursued as a second choice.

    Didn't Philadelphia just get some money from the Penn gov?

    Please tell me where you are getting your figures from. The facts don't bear that out.. funding at all levels for public transit has increased not decreased since 1990.
    Of course programs like formula grants and New Start have provided more capital money than was available in the 1980s, but certainly nothing like what was available under the New Deal or under Nixon's response to the oil embargo. Do you honestly think that the BART could be built with New Start? There simply isn't enough money in the program.

    And operating subsidies continued to decline in the 1990s. The CTA continued to get a little federal operating subsidy left over from Nixon throughout the '80s and early '90s. It was cancelled in the late '90s (1997 IIRC).

    The reason public transi is a shadow of itself is rising auto ownership and home ownership (usally the single family type). If you live in a community of single family homes with little mix of land uses (as most suburbs) you are statistically very likey to own a car. If you own a car your propensity to use transit goes down.. there's no hope in trying to effectively serve the sprawling suburbs with anything more than some peak hour service to/from the CBD (maybe more if you are closer to the CBD). And as Wendell points out correctly in Europe they are sprawling and buying cars because that's what people want...
    While I don't disagree that American pedestrian-hostile sprawl does not facilitate transit, that is no excuse to degrade service in her cities where people will and do heavily use transit.

    You claim that Europe is sprawling (in fact from what I've seen of European sprawl, it's much more like Scarborough than like the Inland Empire) but there hasn't been a major disinvestment in transit infrastructure there. Even the Beecher Axe in Britain was a tiny "correction" compared to the massive and systematic disinvestment in the United States.


    it's our societies own affluence that has helped to bastardize public transit not some sinister public policy plan to gut transit at the expense of highways.
    Please point out where I made the claim that there was a "sinister public policy" to "gut transit?" I said that public policy has been on cutting costs, when it should have been on expanding ridership. No doubt affluence played a part in the popularity of the automobile. But to claim that public policy played no role is to simply ignore the massive body of evidence to the contrary.

    Your actual position is getting increasingly hard to pin down. Wendell Cox's position is that transit is obsolete and wasteful and should be ended in the United States. He has even repeatedly argued that the poor should be bought cars by the government instead of continued funding of transit. Do you, personally, believe that transit is valuable or do you agree with Cox that it is not?

  24. #24
    Cyburbian nuovorecord's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    444
    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    The idealistic side of me agrees with you. The realist says that you are only partly correct. People are not really all that sick of driving their cars everywhere. cars are extensions of their psyches, their entertainment centers. Driving everywhere is the only thing most people know. New Urbanism caters to a quite small, self-selected elite.

    I want to live in YOUR world, NR. Unfortunately, and this is why I am so cynical and, dare I say it, burnt out, America is Dharmster's world, as destructive in many aspects of life as the National Automobile Slum really is. Still, fight the good fight!
    As much as it pains me to admit it, you're probably right. Most people know no other way to get around but a car. Without a car, you might as well lock them in a room somewhere and shut them off from society. But there are signs that all may not be lost. We've done some marketing research here in Portland that indicates about 70 percent of the people contacted were interested in finding out more about how to use alternatives. Another study I recently came across showed that kids were waiting longer to get their driver's licenses.

    What does that really mean? Who knows. I don't dream of utopia...I'm too pragmatic for that. But we can at least make things a LITTLE better, can't we? That's my personal and professional goal. I think it's all we can realistically hope for.
    "There's nothing wrong with America that can't be fixed by what's right with America." - Bill Clinton.

  25. #25

    Registered
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Solano County, California
    Posts
    6,468
    Quote Originally posted by nuovorecord
    As much as it pains me to admit it, you're probably right. Most people know no other way to get around but a car. Without a car, you might as well lock them in a room somewhere and shut them off from society. But there are signs that all may not be lost. We've done some marketing research here in Portland that indicates about 70 percent of the people contacted were interested in finding out more about how to use alternatives. Another study I recently came across showed that kids were waiting longer to get their driver's licenses.

    What does that really mean? Who knows. I don't dream of utopia...I'm too pragmatic for that. But we can at least make things a LITTLE better, can't we? That's my personal and professional goal. I think it's all we can realistically hope for.
    Sure. I'm all for this project!

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